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venue, Illinois divorce attorneysWhile the process of divorce can be quite complicated and, at times, overwhelming, filing the petition for divorce is relatively simple. With the help of an attorney, it is often even easier, but you will still need to decide where to file your petition so that the divorce proceedings will be held in the appropriate venue.

Where to File

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), proceedings for divorce should take place in the county where either you or your spouse currently reside. However, you are free to file your petition in any county of your choosing. If you decide to pursue a divorce in a county other than your county of residence or that of your spouse, you will need to file a motion with your petition explaining why you chose an alternate location. For example, if, following your separation, your spouse moved to DeKalb County while you continued living in DuPage County, but you both work in Kane County, it might be reasonable for your divorce proceedings to be held in Kane County.

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marital debt, Lombard family law attorneysAdjusting to life after a divorce can be challenging. One of the hardest things can be learning to deal with the new financial picture, especially any new debts you may have acquired as part of the divorce.

Setting a Budget

Family courts not only have the authority to divide the marital assets, but they may also be tasked with dividing the marital debts. This may mean you have less disposable income than you did before the divorce. It is important that you carefully review your finances early on and set up a realistic budget.

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divorce, separation, Illinois family law attorneysIf you are like most married people, you probably approached your marriage with a hopeful spirit and a commitment to building a life with your spouse. It is an unfortunate reality, however, that many couples simply do not belong together. The best intentions and years of effort by you and your spouse may not be enough to overcome your differences. In recent years, a trend has begun to emerge among couples who may not wish to remain married but have no intention of making each other’s lives miserable in the process.

A cooperative divorce is always preferable to one that is contentious and stressful, but until now, the law in Illinois tended to keep a couple together longer than many felt necessary. Beginning in 2016, amendments to the law now allow a divorce to proceed much more quickly than ever before, permitting the couple to focus on more important aspects of their lives without undue delays.

No Required Separation

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parental responsibilities, child custody, Illinois family law attorneysWhile it does not occur in every case, it is certainly common enough. Following a divorce, separation, or breakup, many parents engage in a bitter battle over who will get custody of their children, and who will be relegated to visitation, often with reluctance on the part of the primary custodian. For many years, the laws in Illinois have provided the possibility of sole or joint custody, which parents too commonly saw as a content to be "won" or "lost." Starting next year, that will no longer be the case as the concept of child custody in the state of Illinois is getting a complete makeover.

Family Law Reform

The changes to child custody come as part of a sweeping measure that is drastically updating the state’s approach to divorce and family law in general. The law was passed earlier this year and was signed by the governor in July, paving the way for the updates to take effect on January 1, 2016.

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joint simplified divorce, Illinois law, Kane County family lawyersA number of previous posts on this blog have discussed the idea that divorce does not need to be a knock-down, drag-out battle. It is very possible for divorcing spouses to remain calm, civil, even friendly throughout the process. These types of cases lend themselves quite well to proceedings for uncontested divorce, in which neither party objects to the divorce and the details of the agreement are generally negotiated outside of the courtroom. Uncontested divorce is often much faster and less expensive than contested divorce, but the law in Illinois provides an additional option that may be easier and even more cost-effective. It is called joint simplified divorce and there are very specific conditions that apply in order for a couple to be eligible.

What is Joint Simplified Divorce?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act offers an alternative to more traditional divorce for couples without complex marital concerns. In a joint simplified divorce, both parties file the petition together, along with their signed agreements regarding property and support. The court will typically hear the case on the same day that it is filed, and if everything is in order, the judgment may be entered immediately. This represents a dramatic savings in time, energy, and expenses compared to formal divorce proceedings.

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endangerment, illinois courts, Lombard family law attorneyIn 2003, headlines around the country told the tragic story of three small children who drowned while trapped inside a car after it rolled into a lake in central Illinois. The children’s mother and her boyfriend were subsequently charged with first-degree murder, when the story they told about being unable to free the children did not hold up to investigative scrutiny. The boyfriend was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, while the mother was convicted of child endangerment and served five years in prison. Now, the woman is back in a Cook County court, looking to regain custody of the three children she had since her release.

New Name, Same Concerns

Since her imprisonment, the beleaguered woman has changed her last name, a development that allegedly caused child welfare officials to be slow to realize that she had started a new family. When the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) came to the realization that she was the same person whose children had drowned, the agency began looking closely at the situation, eventually removing the new children last year. Prosecutors in Cook County are concerned that the woman’s current decision-making is similar to that of her past, and that she is likely to put her children at risk again.

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child representative, family law, Illinois family law attorneysA few weeks ago, a post on this blog discussed the role and responsibilities of a court-appointed guardian ad litem, or GAL. However, the GAL is just one of several appointments that may be made by the court to assist with child-related legal proceedings, such as those for custody, visitation, or support. In place of a GAL, the court may appoint either an attorney for the child or a child representative, two roles that may sound very similar, but are, in fact, quite different from one another.

Attorney for the Child

A lawyer appointed as an attorney for the child is exactly that. He or she is the assigned legal counsel for the child as a separate party to the case. The normal attorney-client rules of confidentiality and procedure apply, meaning that the attorney is bound by his or her client’s wishes, regardless of the ability of the child to recognize their appropriateness. For this reason, an attorney for the child is not very likely to be appointed unless the court identifies that a minor child is mature enough to make considered, reasonable decisions.

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